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Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club 
has probably the two greatest performances of the year from both Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey.  This is the single reason why it is one of the best films of the year.

I had written McConaughey off a number of years ago.  I felt he had given away any critical acclaim in favor of cashing a paycheck.  We all gotta get paid.  The past few years though McConaughey (now hopefully fatly rich) has decided to take a chance on more interesting parts, parts with some sort of depth.  I thought last year was the year of McConaughey with fantastic performances in Magic Mike, Killer Joe and Bernie (the later two made my top ten last year thanks to him).  This year seems to be tailoring itself even more to him.  Not only is he nothing short of amazing here, he’s also fantastic in Mud another film flying under the radar in 2013.  Glad to see you Mr. McConaughey.  Welcome back.

McConaughey stars as Ron Woodroof.  A hard drinking, cocaine snorting, fast living cowboy in Dallas who contracts HIV after having sex with an intravenous drug user.  The year is 1985, and AIDS is about to become a full blown epidemic in the US.  Millions of dollars will be spent on drug research and lab tests, in order to find a cure….a cure that will bring in millions as well.  The drug proclaimed to be the cure is AZT, and when McConaughey is diagnosed he is given 30 days to live.  His only hope is to become part of an AZT drug trial (which he would have to wait to part of) or find a way to obtain the drug illegally.

Upon circumstance Woodroof runs in to someone who works at the local hospital, and pays him in order to steal AZT for him.  The problem is the AZT isn’t working for Woodroof and it’s also running in short supply.  His friend at the hospital gives him the name of a doctor in Mexico that may be able to supply him with more of the drug.  He travels there nearly on his death bed, and at his 30 day expiration date.

When Woodroof arrives in Mexico he meets Dr. Vass (Griffin Dunne).  He’s a doctor who has lost his license and his only choice is to work in Mexico, where he is free to try out more radical measures in the fight against not only AIDS, but cancer, and alzheimer’s as well.  Dr. Vass puts Woodroof on a new medication along with a healthy dose of vitamins and protein, and instructs him to eat and live healthier to prolong his life.  It works.  He also learns in the process that AZT doesn’t work.  It actually has the opposite effect.  He wages war on AZT and those prescribing it.

With the knowledge of not how to eliminate HIV, but to prolong life, Woodroof heads back to the states with the idea to sell the supplements that he is put on to those who need it most.  He creates the Dallas Buyers Club.  A club that offers these supplements to HIV positive people at a premium.  Woodroof employs the help of Rayon (Jared Leto) a transvestite patient he met along the way, and business begins to boom.

I never knew anything about the underground, seedy belly of buyers clubs that began popping up around the US in the mid-1980’s, but their existence is quite intriguing.  The fact that these clubs were created in order to find a way around the slow process of the FDA is amazing.  Dallas Buyers Club examines the problems with getting certain supplements and drugs approved in the US, while other drugs are being fast tracked by pharmaceutical companies, because of their strong ties with the FDA.  That push/pull between Woodroof, doctors, and the FDA is what makes for a great story.

Woodroof and Rayon also become very close, even though they are completely opposite people.  They’ve been thrust in a very terrible situation because they share this disease.  We don’t get to see Leto much on the big screen nowadays, but when he does appear boy is it a treat.

Dallas Buyers Club has the makings of an Oscar winning film, and I hope it gets represented on Oscar day.

Grade: A-